Column | Empire strikes back against India? 

Dr S Jaishankar. Photo: X/@DrSJaishankar

I had voiced some apprehension in my recent television interview with external affairs minister Dr S Jaishankar that our assuming the leadership of the Global South consisting of 125 countries might result in a certain amount of envy in countries like China, leading to a further deterioration in our relations with them.

His response was logical, rational and cautious. He said, first of all, that India was not claiming to be a leader of the Global South. Secondly, he said that the Global South was a feeling of solidarity, a sense of belonging, which might eventually lead to a contribution to a new global order.

I was happy to agree with him, but I had a feeling that some kind of reaction to India’s spectacular success might come from China or some other countries instigated by China.

But the astonishing thing is that wittingly or unwittingly a backlash came from Canada, not in the least inimical to India, but a friendly nation, which had protected our diplomats for many years from extremist elements and had cooperated with us to combat terrorism. 

This has come as a big blow to India soon after the success of the G-20, which virtually created two building blocks for a new world order. They are the strategic partnership with the United States, placing ourselves on the side of democracies. The second building block is the Global South, which is likely to be led by India. 

But coming to think of it, Canada could have reason to feel aggrieved about India’s rise. Canada is a rich and diverse country with natural resources and hard-working people, a large chunk of them from India. But because of its geographical position and peculiarities, it has to play second fiddle to the US.

Some resentment on this account has been voiced by Canadian leaders, particularly the present Prime Minister. The emergence of India as a rival to it in relations with the US and the support of the Global South may have appeared to them as a threat to its own position. 

Moreover, the Khalistan issue was hanging fire over the two countries and Canada was not able to help Khalistan make any progress in India to get the solid support of his Sikh constituency. It may have occurred to him after the reported exchange with the PM that here was a chance for him to assert himself and win the next election. This plot may have exploded when he named India, a non-violent nation as the killer of a Canadian national in his own land. He may not have anticipated the force with which India reacted and walked straight into a trap of his own creation. 

This is a theory, which has no backing except a certain logic and some credibility. The sooner Canada realises that it has been caught in a Catch-22 situation and retracts from it, the better it will be for Canada, India and the world. And the way out is to say that the evidence of the alleged involvement of India is not strong and take a common pledge that the two countries will work together to eliminate terrorism and restore normalcy. Such an end to the controversy will be welcomed by Canada’s allies, who have been given the Hobson’s choice between Canada and India. 

Canada has been trying to enlist the support of Five Eyes, a coalition of countries, formed long ago to prevent spying on them by others. The US reaction was loaded in favour of Canada as it implied that there might be some truth in the allegation and supported a full investigation.

It sounded as though the empire was striking back against India for having got Russia off the hook in the G-20 Declaration.

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